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Musician, Known for Work with Chambers Brothers, Assaulted for Dedicating Song to Trayvon Martin

Lester Chambers, a seventy-three year-old musician known for his work as a member of The Chambers Brothers, was assaulted on stage at a blues festival last night after he dedicated a song to Trayvon Martin.

Chambers’ son, Dylan, posted the following on Facebook last night: “Lester was just assaulted on stage at The Russell City Hayward Blues Festival by a crazed woman after dad dedicated People Get Ready to Trayvon Martin. He is on the way to the hospital now.”

Kurt Crowbar Kangas, a musician and friend of Lester’s, later posted in the comments thread:

Lester is fine, just a bit sore and he will feel it tomorrow, the woman who attacked him was white and yelled something like “it’s all your fault” before she hit him, he went down hard but was halfway caught by Barren, thank God, she was subdued by Police and taken away while the para-medics came and took him to a local Hospital where he went thru a series of cat scans, no broken bones, the only injury for now is a 8″ scratch in the kidney area of his back and it’s starting to swell. Thank you for all your well wishes, he will be up and running soon.

Lester apparently dedicated the classic song, “People Get Ready,” by The Impressions to Martin. The woman heard the dedication and attacked him.

His son posted a photo of Lester’s injury to Facebook. He said he had a “bruised rib and nerve damage” and was “sore all over.”

There was a lot of talk, particularly by Zimmerman supporters, about how there would be riots if Zimmerman was acquitted. So far, all that we know happened that was violent was this attack and an attack on peaceful protesters by the Los Angeles police, who fired rubber bullets at them.

Over fourteen months ago, Lester posted an “I Am the 99%” photo. The Occupy movement was still making headlines and a sign he held up read:

I am the former lead singer of a 60’s band. I performed before thousands at Atlanta Pop 2, Miami Pop, Newport Pop, Atlantic Pop. I did not squander my money on drugs or a fancy home. I went from 1967-1994 before I saw my first royalty check. The music giants I recorded with only paid me for 7 of my albums.

I have never seen a penny in royalties from my other 10 albums I recorded. Our hit song was licensed to over 100 films, TV and commercials without our permission. One major TV network used our song for a national commercial and my payment was $625 dollars.

I am now 72, trying to live on $1200 a month. Sweet Relief, a music charity is taking donations for me. Only the 1% of Artist can afford to sue. I am the 99%.

He told VICE in an interview in May 2012 other musicians were in “the same boat” as him.

“There are so many. And so many different members of different bands. There are a lot of cases where two or three members did well and two or three didn’t. So many, I can’t begin to give you names,” Lester said.

The good news is that Lester has recorded a new album after raising over $69,000 with a Kickstarter project. It is an opportunity for the “internet public” to right a wrong committed by the music industry.

“People Get Ready” is a song that The Chambers Brothers recorded for their album “The Time Has Come” in 1967 (which included a version of the group’s most  well-known song, “Time Has Come Today”).

The song reflected the times. Written by the late great musician Curtis Mayfield, “People Get Ready” was written after Martin Luther King Jr. led the March on Washington, and it resonated with those fighting racial injustice and oppression because of the universal gospel message that, if people continued to persist in their struggle, they could prevail.

As the song goes:

People get ready, there’s a train a-comin’

You don’t need no baggage, you just get on board

All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin’

Don’t need no ticket, you just thank the Lord

It is an incredibly appropriate song to dedicate to Trayvon. There may be no punishment for what George Zimmerman did when he killed Trayvon, but don’t let this be demoralizing. Keep on fighting. Challenge the law that gives self-appointed vigilante neighborhood watchmen the cover to claim self-defense after profiling a young black teenager and escape having to serve serious time in jail.

Here’s Lester Chambers performing “People Get Ready” earlier this year:


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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."